When you publish content to your website’s blog you want to be sure that the post has every chance of grabbing the attention of your visitor’s and sucking in traffic like a vacuum. There are a few key things that the team here at Surge have learnt that you can do with each blog post to make sure that this happens every time.
1. Use an Attention Grabbing Image Header
A good header image helps to get a message across instantly. It is always the first thing that a visitor to any news post will see. It also grabs the casual browser’s attention.
You can use creative commons images from Flickr to save buying in images.
A good post for further reading is this one.
2. Create A Title That Catches The Attention
The title of a post is particularly important in a number of respects:
Grabbing attention in the search engines – As the volume of news / blog posts accumulate they will bring in traffic to the website as they will rank for longer tail search phrases. When a searcher conducts a search that then lists a news post amongst the results the title is generally the only thing that they have to distinguish one listing from another. The title that stands out is going to get the majority of clicks.
Web users scan pages – A visitor will scan your news blog. One of the best ways to get them to pause and read the full news post is to get their attention with an intriguing title. A title should therefore be written with the aim of drawing in the visitor’s attention.
Here are a few tips on effective title techniques:
– Keep it short and simple. Too much information in a title can be confusing.
– Grab attention. A good title will make the casual browser feel compelled to read the news post.
For example. Consider the news post recently published on your news blog: “Careers Advice Reforms Led To Worrying Deterioration In Standards, say MPs”
This title could be re worded to make it more attention grabbing. For example I would write the title as: “Worrying Deterioration In Career Advice Standards, Say MPs” The word “worrying” is a natural attention grabber. By putting this at the start of the title you stand a far higher likelihood of capturing the attention of the casual reader.
In addition the current title tells people that it is the careers advice reforms that are the cause of the fall in standards. The title therefore gives the viewer the full picture and many casual readers may then not read the post because they already have all the information that they need.
My suggested title leaves the question of what is causing the worrying fall in standards unanswered which will then draw the reader into the news article.
Another example would be the news post “Traineeship Programme To Boost Youth Skills”. The attention grabbing word in this title is the word “boost”. The title could have been worded “Boost To Youth Skills Through Traineeship Programme.
3. Consider Adding a Lede To Your Posts.
News posts are sometimes written so as to include the “lede”. The lede is the first paragraph and is specifically written to provide a detailed preview of the entire news post. It summarises the story and includes all of the facts. The dailymail.co.uk does this very well by using bullet points for their lede paragraph.
4. Make The Writing Scannable
Most online readers scan content for individual words or phrases, headings and other visual cues. If they identify something that catches their interest when scanning the news post they are then very likely to read the full post.
A good test to see whether a news post is suitably Scannable is to pass it to a colleague without the title. Give them 10 seconds to scan the text. Can they tell you the gist of the news post after a 10 second scan? If not the news post is not sufficiently scannable.
Tips to making content more scannable include:
- Use bullet points within the content where relevant.
- Formatting. The use of bold, CAPITALS, italics and underlining are all good visual cues that can be used to emphasis points.
- Subheadings. Probably the best way to break up large blocks of text and, draw the scanning reader into the new post.
- Aim to never make a paragraph longer than 5 lines.
- Use pictures. There is a lot of research that has shown that reader’s eyes are drawn down a page by pictures. Online news sites like The Huffington Post and The Daily Mail Online have been pioneers at this. Some may say they have gone too far! However, using pictures within a news post is a sure fire way to catch the attention of your readers.
5. Apply For Google News Inclusion
Gaining entry to Google News is a sure fire way to boost your traffic levels, ramp up the extent that your news posts get shared and, in turn boost the website’s overall search status and rankings. A website that publishes news on a very regular basis will be eligible for inclusion in Google news.
There are a few technical changes that you would need to make to your news posts. For example all news post urls must have at least a 3 digit identifier in the news post URL. For a detailed explanation of the requirements for applying For Google News inclusion see their guide to this.
6. Use Google Authorship Markup
Adding Google Authorship markup to your news posts will instantly add authority to your news posts to help them rank higher in the search engines. The author’s avatar will also be shown in the search listings, which has been proven to considerably increase, click through rates onto the content.
The process involved is very simple. You can read our Guide to setting up Google authorship to fast track the process. It may require a slight modification to your website’s CMS so that news posts can be attributed to a particular author.
7. Strategically Place Social Sharing Buttons.
Take a look at any news post on the Dailymail.co.uk. You will notice that they place sharing buttons at the top and bottom of a news post.
Buttons towards the top show off the number of social likes, which in turn helps to pull readers in. We will stimulate these social figures for you. However, don’t be put off by the fact that some posts may not get many shares. That is to be expected whilst the website traffic is gaining momentum. However, once the traffic is at a moderate level if it is still the case then your news posts are not engaging effectively with your readership and the team needs to look closer at the content and format of the posts.
There is no point at all in publishing just for the sake of it. Google now looks at engagement stats very closely and publishing content for the sake of it will pull the standing of the whole site down in the eyes of the search engines.
Please do let me know if there is any aspect of these notes that you would like to talk through or that you have any further questions.
With al of the above in place you have a blog post designed to engage your visitors and perform like a thoroughbred.